St. Catherine the Great Martyr 

Orthodox Mission

Tropar - Tone 4

With thy virtues, as with the rays of the sun, thou didst enlighten the unbelieving philosophers; and like the most radiant moon shining on those who walk at night, thou didst drive away the darkness of unbelief. Thou didst bring the empress to faith and didst denounce the tyrant, O divinely elect bride. O blessed Catherine, with desire thou didst make haste to the heavenly bridal chamber, to Christ the most comely Bridegroom, and by Him has thou been crowned with a royal crown. Standing with the angels before Him, do thou pray for us who keep thy most honored memory.

Kondak - Tone 2

O ye who love the martyrs, raise up an honored chorus in godly manner; honoring the most wise Catherine; for in the arena she preached Christ and trod upon the serpent, putting down the knowledge of the rhetors.

Divine Liturgy in English every Saturday at 9am.

Bible Study after Liturgy.

St Andrew Russian Orthodox Church

6465 54th Ave. N. St. Petersburg, FL 33709

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His Eminence Hilarion, Metropolitan of Eastern America & New York

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Bishop Nicholas of Manhattan

Christ is in our midst!

The Nativity Fast begins on Sunday. There are so many wonderful and beneficial things that can be said about it that it is hard to decide where to begin.

 

First, if we want to keep Christ in Christmas, then we need to keep the fast.

 

It is not insignificant that at least some western Christians understand that the modern, secularized, consumeristic celebration of Christmas has absolutely nothing to do with celebration of this wonderful feast, which is know in the Church as: The Nativity according to the Flesh of our Lord, God and Savior Jesus Christ.

 

The modern celebration is focused on gifts and buying, in other words: hedonism and profit, which are intimately intertwined. Many businesses are made or fail depending on the Christmas shopping season. This is appalling. Thus all the decorations, parties, programs, and all else are there - not to celebrate the splendor of the coming of the King - to motivate us to buy and indulge ourselves and others. 

 

Another issue is that the western Celebration of Christmas has been transformed into a mere family holiday. What’s wrong with this? Well, there is certainly nothing wrong with family, especially a family celebrating together. However, when we celebrate Christmas, the focus is not on the family, but on Christ. How disheartening it is to see western churches closed on Christmas! We go to church to celebrate, pray, worship the One who became one of us for our sake. It is certainly good and blessed to worship the Christ-child as a family. 

 

We Orthodox are truly blessed, as our faith has not lost its focus on Christ, But we need to actually live and practice that which we profess. 

 

Do you want to celebrate a Christ-focused Christmas? Keep the fast. Who celebrates the coming of someone before their arrival? This is what is done in the West so that by the time Christmas is come many are tired of it and glad to have it over with.

 

We do not celebrate the feast before its time. We spend the time - 40days - in fasting, prayer and almsgiving. Why? Well, when we are expecting a special guest, do we not we first clean our homes and then make everything as festive as possible. Who decorates a dirty home? So, as we prepare to welcome Christ into our hearts, our homes, our community (parish church), we must do so by fasting, that is, putting away all that separates us from the love of God, submit our flesh to our spirit, our will to God’s will. We hearken unto the voices of the Holy Prophet and Forerunner John who exclaims: Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand! We eat less, pray more, and be as generous to those who are in need as we can.

 

Let us keep in mind that those who are in need are in need throughout the year, not just at this time of the year, and so we should ever be ready to help as we may be able to. But the need does seem to be more acute at this time of year.

 

We not only prepare ourselves for the advent or coming of Christ by cleansing our minds, hearts, and souls, but also by beautifying them with the virtues: faith, hope, love, patience, long-suffering, forgiveness, and so forth. If we fail to do so we shall be like the five foolish virgins who were locked out of the marriage feast after the coming of the Bridegroom, for they had neglected to get oil to light their lamps.

 

So let us be radical, let us be different, let us keep Christ in Christmas by keeping the fast and all that the Church gives us to prepare for this feast, and then let us celebrate the 12 days of Christmas, from the Feast of our Lord’s Nativity with the Feast of Theophany.


Fr. Stephen

Reminder: We are concelebrating with Fr. Igor and the faithful of St. Andrew's Russian Orthodox Church, - 6465 54th Ave. N., - St. Petersburg, whose gracious hospitality is ever appreciated.

Please support St. Andrew’s, prayerfully and financially.

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Upcoming Services

Saturday, November 27      - The Holy and Glorious Apostle Philip. Divine Liturgy in English at 9am. Moleban  Bible Study. Vigil at 5pm.

 

Sunday, November 28        - The Holy Martyrs; Gurias, Samonas & Abisus. Divine Liturgy at 10am. The beginning of the Nativity fast.

Friday, December 3           - Vigil at 5pm.

 

Saturday, December 4      - The Entrance of the Most Holy Theotokos into the Temple. Divine Liturgy in English at 9am. Moleban  Bible Study. Vigil at 5pm.

 

Sunday, December 5         - The Holy Apostles of the Seventy Philemon and Archippus, Martyr and Equal-to-the-Apostles Apphia, wife of Philemon. Divine Liturgy at 10am.

 

Saturday, December 11     - The Holy Martyr Stephen the New; The Holy Martyr Irenarchus. Divine Liturgy in English at 9am. Moleban. Chatechism. Vigil at 5pm.

 

Sunday, December 12        - The Holy Martyr Paramon. Divine Liturgy at 10am.

Reminder: We are concelebrating with Fr. Igor and the faithful of St. Andrew's Russian Orthodox Church, - 6465 54th Ave. N., - St. Petersburg, whose gracious hospitality is ever appreciated.

 

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If you live in the greater Tampa Bay area and are interested in Orthodoxy or would like to help in establishing a traditional Orthodox parish in English

please call 727-239-9186 and leave a message or e-mail me at frstevofl@gmail.com.

I'd love to hear from you! 

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Our Purpose

Fr. Stephen Zaremba

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Most of those who come on Saturday morning also come on Sunday, while others attend other Orthodox parishes on Sundays. Some have relocated from other states and are looking for a spiritual home. We have baptized a few adults after a period of preparation, and have also baptized children born into Orthodox Christian families. Truly God is good to us!

Thanks be to God our community is slowly growing. Since our ways are not God’s ways we are traversing an unexpected path, currently serving at St. Andrew’s Russian Orthodox Church in St. Petersburg. It is proving quite beneficial for both our St. Catherine’s Mission and the St. Andrew’s parish. God’s providence is truly remarkable.

 

First a quick word about St. Andrew’s. It is a Russian speaking community. The church is beautiful, the choir is excellent, the services served properly. While most of the vigil and Sunday Divine Liturgy are celebrated in Church Slavonic, English is used based on attendance. The Epistle and Gospel are always read in English and there is sermon in English. If you are familiar with the Divine Liturgy you will feel very comfortable. Fr. Igor and the parishioners of St. Andrew’s have made us feel quite welcome indeed.

 

On Saturdays we celebrate the Divine Liturgy in English, followed by a Bible Study. This started off as quite a small group but it has been growing so that we usually have about 20 or more stay for our class. Not bad for a Saturday morning!

We are a mission. Our purpose is to make traditional, apostolic Christianity, today known as Orthodoxy, available to those who are seeking it. Many are seeking it not quite knowing what it is. If you are looking for God - look here. If you are looking for stability, where doctrines do not change with the blowing of the wind - look here. If you want to truly learn how to worship in the spirit and truth as taught by the holy Apostles - look here. If you are are not sure just what it is that you are looking for - look here. We don’t make things up as we go and we don’t change with the times. Truth is truth. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever.

 

The world is going through a time of considerable turmoil. No one knows what the future holds. The Orthodox Christian Faith has withstood the bloody persecutions of ancient Rome, the tribulation of the Arian, Iconoclastic and other heresies, the onslaught of the Persians and Moslems, Communism and everything else that the Adversary has thrown at us through the centuries. But as our Lord promised, the gates of hell have not prevailed. Regardless of what the future may hold, the Orthodox Faith will remain like bedrock unto the Lord returns.

Now some may think that Orthodox Christianity is similar to Roman Catholicism. While there may be some external similarities, Roman Catholics and Protestants, with their now 30,000 denominations, are far closer to one another than they are to the Orthodox. While this may seem very wrong, Protestantism is a reaction to Roman Catholicism and as such, while they certainly have different beliefs and solutions, they have the same mindset.

 

Orthodoxy is quite different as it has resisted the temptation to be altered by the philosophy of the day through the centuries. Orthodoxy is what is and has been believed by everyone everywhere from the beginning. No change. No compromise. It is manly - men love it. It is not a soft faith. It challenges each believer. And no, it is not too much for women and children. Orthodoxy is beautiful, full of joy and light, gentleness and compassion. 

 

If you are in the area, we would love to meet you. You can contact me at frstevofl@gmail.com or call or text to 727-239-9186.

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The following was a letter to the Roman Emperor Hadrian (d.138AD) from the Athenian Orator Aristides in which he depicts how the Early Christians lived. This is how Christianity conquered the world. This is how it will do so again...

“The Christians know and trust God…They placate those who oppress them and make them their friends; they do good to their enemies. Their wives are absolutely pure, and their daughters modest. Their men abstain from unlawful marriage and are free from all impurity: If any of them have bondwomen or children, they persuade them to become Christians for the love they have toward them; and when they become so, they call them without distinction brothers…They love one another: They do not refuse to help the widows. They rescue the orphan from him who does him violence. He who has, gives ungrudgingly to him who has not. If they see a stranger; they take him to their dwellings and rejoice over him as over a real brother; for they do not call themselves brothers after the flesh, but after the Spirit and in God…If any one among them is poor and needy; and they do not have food to spare, they fast for two or three days, that they may supply him with necessary food. They scrupulously obey the commands of their Messiah. Every morning and every hour they thank and praise God for His loving-kindness toward them…Because of them there flows forth all the beauty that there is in the world. But the good deeds they do, they do not proclaim in the ears of the multitude, but they take care that no one shall perceive them. Thus they labor to become righteous…Truly, this is a new people and there is something divine in them.”

 
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St Andrew Russian Orthodox Church

6465 54th Ave. N.

St. Petersburg, FL 33709